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Florida parents concerned that bus stop is too close to gator pond

Posted: 8:53 AM, Sep 08, 2016
Updated: 2016-09-09 09:04:34Z

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Florida parents are concerned that students are being picked up at a Fort Myers bus stop just feet away from a pond containing alligators.

Sharon Allen says she's seen multiple alligators swimming feet away from her grandson's bus stop every morning. 

"It's scary," Allen said. "Children get picked up here while it's still dark out. If there's a gator on the grass they might not be able to tell."

Residents of a nearby apartment complex say warning signs for the alligators were posted in June, shortly after the tragedy at nearby Disney World that killed a toddler.

Allen says she reached out to the Lee County School District for weeks, wanting the stop moved closer to the gate to prevent a tragedy.  "I kept calling over and over and over again. It felt like they didn't even care," she said.

Stacey Shiam says until something changes she'll be waiting at the designated stop with her back to the road and eyes glued to the lake.

"The buses come from that way, but we face this way so we can see if there's a gator coming," she said.

Reporters from sister station WFTX in Fort Myers visited the bus stop and watched Lee County buses pick up students just feet away from the sign warning gators are in the water.

About an hour later, a school district car pulled up across the street from the stop.  The Transportation Director tells Four In Your Corner off camera that students have been waiting at the wrong bus stop all along. She said if drivers see students waiting in a group, then they'll more than likely stop and pick them up where the group is waiting. She said students should be waiting at the other flag pole closer to the apartment's gate.

Despite this response, Allen says proof is on the paper. The bus information sheet she received at open house says the designated bus stop is at Bernwood Place Dr. And Bernwood Place Lane at the flag poles, feet away from the lake.

Below is the response from the District:

Our bus safety team visited Bernwood Trace apartments yesterday and observed a gator about 2 feet in length.  It was in a pond on private property about 100 feet away from our assigned bus stop. We were back out there today for another look. Due to the distance from the stop, the team determined it’s a safe location for the students to wait for the bus.